Sarah Hagen scored the first goal of her Orlando Pride career and Lianne Sanderson cemented the victory in the 87th minute to bring the Pride's record to 2-2-0 in a 2-0 win over the Seattle Reign. Hagen opened the scoring in the first half of the match but would be replaced down the stretch when, in the 57th minute, Sanderson made her way on.
86' GOOOOOOOOALLLL SANDERSON! Takes the shot and it rolls into the back of the net.#ORLvSEA | 2-0 pic.twitter.com/b8iw44ZsHK— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) May 8, 2016
Orlando had the majority of possession throughout the match as the Reign was unable to muster much of an attack, managing only four shots, putting two on goal. Ashlyn Harris went mostly unchallenged in the match as Seattle only had one shot in the first half and only mounted its most serious attempt late in the 82nd minute, when Beverly Yanez had a shot that Harris was able to paw away before also handling the rebound. Michelle Cruz collided with Harris on the rebound after being unable to control her momentum, and sent the Orlando keeper to the ground doubled over in pain. Harris was able to continue, but not before Laura Alleway was required to take the ensuing goal kick for her after the play.
The match was very physical in the sense that there were no cards issued despite several players from both sides getting away with some hard tackles that would have made MLS officials wince.
Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said he was quite pleased with his team's performance on the night.
" I was really delighted with the win and delighted with the performance," Sermanni said after the match.
The manager went on to mention the difference that Harris -- who has performed masterfully all year -- makes in goal as a two-time winner of the NWSL Save of the Week this season.
The victory over the two-time NWSL Shield winners wasn't lost on Sermanni, who called Seattle a "benchmark" franchise and noted the play of his own team to limit a possession team like Seattle to only a few opportunities through the combined efforts of the back line.
Sermanni only had one critique of his club on the night.
"We limited their opportunities to...I think, their first shot on goal was the one near the end where Ashlyn knocked it off the crossbar," said Sermanni. "So, I think that was a measure of how well our defensive discipline was. I think if we can just get the other bit right of keeping the ball just a little bit better, I think we'll create far more chances and be a much more potent side than we are at the moment."
10' GOOOOALLLLLLL!! A Sarah Hagen header! What a beautiful run and cross by Alex Morgan.#ORLvSEA | 1-0 pic.twitter.com/ydJLWIftPX— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) May 8, 2016
Hagen was named player of the game and today also marked the 11th anniversary of her being declared cancer-free. Coincidentally, she scored her goal in the 11th minute.
"It felt great," Hagen said. "I was talking to some of my teammates after the game and just how fitting it was that I celebrated such a big part in my life a few days ago and be able to score my first goal for the Orlando Pride today was pretty special."
83' A massive response for @Ashlyn_Harris who went down after this save. Beast Mode.#ORLvSEA | 1-0 pic.twitter.com/QnjLEXRpEt— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) May 8, 2016
Harris was very complimentary of her back line and the effort it put on to only allow a few opportunities to Seattle and limit the Reign's quality scoring chances to only one late in the game
"Today was a team win and the shutout came from a collective group of players willing to put everything on the line, as you could see," Harris said. "Especially when I'm hobbling around. People went beyond their role, and that's what I asked the team before we took the field. Today we're gonna have to do our role and go beyond it. That's what made the difference, just being switched on and coming up big when I had to."
Harris went on to continue the theme of where the players find their strength and confidence by saying, "Today was just a really emotional game for me, my grandmother was in the stands and she hasn't seen me play in a really long time. She's fighting cancer and she's in radiation. If you guys asked me where my strength comes from every single day stepping out there and putting everything on the line, it's because of that woman. She's incredible, she's a survivor of breast cancer and multiple others and she keeps on trucking. She came out today to support me and brought me to tears and it's an incredible feeling to be able represent my family tonight, especially her for coming out here on Mother's Day."
The Pride's next game is at home against Western New York Flash and Sam Mewis on May 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET.